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Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold [Kindle Edition]

C. S. Lewis , Fritz Eichenberg
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (382 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer . . . Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary novel, to retell their story through the gaze of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Disfigured and embittered, Orual loves her younger sister to a fault and suffers deeply when she is sent away to Cupid, the God of the Mountain. Psyche is forbidden to look upon the god’s face, but is persuaded by her sister to do so; she is banished for her betrayal. Orual is left alone to grow in power but never in love, to wonder at the silence of the gods. Only at the end of her life, in visions of her lost beloved sister, will she hear an answer.

"Till We Have Faces succeeds in presenting with imaginative directness what its author has described elsewhere as ‘the divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic reality in which we all live’ . . . [It] deepens for adults that sense of wonder and strange truth which delights children in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and other legends of Narnia." —New York Times

"The most significant and triumphant work that Lewis has . . . produced." —New York Herald Tribune


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

At once more human and more mythic than his Perelandra trilogy, Lewis's short novel of love, faith, and transformation (both good and ill) offers the reader much food for thought in a compact, impressively rich story. Less heavy-handedly Christian-allegorical than Narnia, Till We Have Faces gives us characters who remind us of people we know facing choices and difficulties we recognize. This deceptively simple book takes on new depth with each rereading.

Review

''He always tells a good story, and this is a splendid, vehement one, full of stone and wind and spears in an old country, wet mist on the hills. ... seems to sum up most of what Dr. Lewis has been telling us for years.'' --The Tablet

''One of the most eminently readable pieces of fiction that has come my way for a long time.'' --Yorkshire Post

Product Details

  • File Size: 1368 KB
  • Print Length: 326 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0156904365
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (July 9, 1980)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004H1U2M4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,266 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
432 of 442 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis' best work of fiction November 4, 2000
Format:Paperback
C.S. Lewis used fiction to lay bare the soul in ways his more apologetic work could not. The cast of characters in The Great Divorce, for example, or in the "Space Trilogy" invariably remind us of people we know - and give us insights into what makes them tick. Nowhere in Lewis' works is the soul explored better than in Till We Have Faces, Lewis' masterwork of fiction and a stunning psychological and spiritual odyssey.
TWHF retells and enriches the myth of Cupid and Psyche, although a lack of familiarity with the myth in no way diminishes from the enjoyment of the book. In Lewis' hands, the story sorts through issues of family, jealousy, gender, faith, and ultimate meaning, culminating with a frightening and yet wonderful 'face to face' scene that gives rise to, and explains, the book's title.
Readers who are looking for the kind of in-your-face Christian symbolism that characterized the Chronicles of Narnia will be disappointed with TWHF. Although I appreciate and am nourished by Lewis' Christian parables and apologetics, the theology in TWHF is pagan, at least on its surface. Underneath the surface, however, Lewis does a masterful job of intertwining the traditional beliefs of the main characters - including a stand-in for Greek rationalism - with rumors of a much more intimate and beautiful way of knowing the gods. The climactic scene itself plays off the biblical phrase, "Now we see in a glass dimly, but then face to face" - a phrase that comes, in fact, from I Corinthians 13, the famous chapter on Love in the New Testament. So Lewis does indeed lead the reader toward the One who is love, but he uses the carrot of intrigue and spiritual longing rather than the steamroller (if you will pardon the mixed metaphor) of too-obvious symbolism.
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239 of 246 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good slap across the face May 9, 2002
Format:Paperback
Besides containing one of the greatest lines about being an author ever written: "I was with book, as a woman is with child", C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces" also did me the service of giving me a good slap across my metaphorical face. How wrapped up we all become in our own little lives. How one-sided and self-favoring is our vision.
Though a book about many things--holiness, love, and philosophy to name a few--"Till We Have Faces" is mainly about how our perceptions can fail us. How in the name of doing what we think is right, we can do horrible things.
Orual, the protagonist of the story, spends an entire life learning what the apostle Paul meant when he said "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." The real twist in "Till We Have Faces" is that the reader, more likely than not, learns the same lesson (I know I did).
C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors for many reasons. This book is definitely one of them. Lewis considered "Till We Have Faces" to be his best book. I do not know if I agree, but it is certainly a great story.
I give "Till We Have Faces" a very high recommendation.
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154 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Till We Have Faces is a psychological masterpiece November 2, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
C.S. Lewis's novel Till We Have Faces is based on the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche, however Lewis chooses to tel the story through Orual, Psyche's older sister. While Lewis does retell the well-known story of Psyche and Cupid, that is only a tiny piece of the story he creates. Till We Have Faces is actually the story of Orual's struggle to find love, and to discover her own identity. The actual setting of the story is unclear-it takes place in a country north of Greece, in a time long past, but Lewis does not choose to elaborate on that. In fact throughout the entire book, he focuses very little on sensory details; it is a story of emotion and psychology rather than action and physical description. Orual writes her own story, beginning at her childhood in her father's castle. There she leads an isolated life, surrounded only by her fathers servants, advisors, and her sisters, Redival and Psyche. Redival, with her golden curls and curvy figure, is superficially pretty, but Psyche is the embodiment of perfect and natural beauty. She is not only outwardly beautiful, she is also pure, unselfish, and loving. Orual, though, is neither pretty nor beautiful. She is, as she is constantly reminded by her father (the king), indescribably ugly. Orual never feels that she is loved by anyone, that is, until Psyche enters her life. Psyche's mother dies giving birth to her, and Orual takes it upon herself to become Psyche's guardian and to raise her. Orual loves Psyche more than anything else, but her love is selfishly and fiercely possessive. Orual is tormented by the thought of having to release Psyche from her suffocating grasp, and she does everything in her power to prevent it. Read more ›
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Many authors have taken old stories and retold them from another character's point-of-view in order to change the theme and lesson portrayed in it. C.S. Lewis did just that in his Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of one of Psyche's treacherous sisters. In doing so, Lewis adds depth to a superficial story and makes his readers question the motive of their love.
Orual, the eldest sister of Psyche, doesn't love anyone more than she loves her youngest sister. In turning the story in this direction, Lewis shifts the conflict from one between the sisters to one at first between Orual and the supposed gods who were the cause of Psyche's sacrifice and then, after Orual realizes her fault in her loss of Psyche, a conflict between Orual and herself. Orual's haunting self-examination and the revelation that she has loved Psyche so much that she pulled her away from happiness, and that she also has done so with everyone she has ever loved is a stirring wake-up call to all of us. The lesson that love is not a selfish action, but one in which, if you act with pure intent, your most important wish is for the one you love to be happy, is one which we all need to learn, as it will bring about greater happiness both in our lives and the lives of those we love.
The title of the novel is the source of another important lesson. Throughout her life, Orual lives with the fact that her looks are anything but attractive. To make things worse, her sister Redival, whom she absolutely detests, is considered somewhat of a beauty. Her father tells her she looks like a man, and that her looks could knock down a horse, and the like, and she becomes embarrassed to show her face to anyone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
Excellent customer service and awesome product! Thank you~
Published 5 days ago by deborahjean
5.0 out of 5 stars And we are all still searching...
And we are all still searching for our true face. Is it beauty, love and peace, or is it pride, ambition and questing?
Published 11 days ago by PsycheNH
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis at his finest, imaginative, exotic, piercing.
This gripping myth is at once one of the best depictions of the terror inside of pagan life and a Eucharistic challenge. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Mary R.
4.0 out of 5 stars great
Lots of typos in the text, but the story is absolutely brilliant! It was an incredible retelling of a classic myth.
Published 24 days ago by gnarlygnats
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and penetrating
Brilliant and penetrating. Lewis frames the tension between the pragmatic scientist and people of faith (the old priest and the fox). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ted Boodle
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis's Best Ever
Till We Have Faces (TWHF) is C. S. Lewis’s (CSL’s) master work. The first time I read it I was already mature, a college Graduate and familiar with many of his books, but I neither... Read more
Published 1 month ago by LaserJock
5.0 out of 5 stars Should the gods be fair?
There are already fabulous reviews regarding this work, so I will try to limit my scope on this amazing and multifaceted story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anibal Madeira
4.0 out of 5 stars and person said she enjoyed it.
Given as gift, and person said she enjoyed it..
Published 1 month ago by Anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic mythology seen in a new light!
One of the most refined books of C.S. Lewis' career - I've ready it a couple times and I love it.
Published 1 month ago by Class and Sass
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read. great price and delivery
Published 2 months ago by Michael P. Sanders
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More About the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

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